From The Idle Parent (Tom Hodgkinson):
From “Stop the Whining”:
Better to be penniless and at home than rich and absent, certainly during the first three or four years of each child’s life. There will be plenty of time for hard work for you when they grow up. Your work, I’m afraid, is not particularly important and certainly not as important or as pleasurable as ensuring that your kids enjoy their first years.
From “Seek Not Perfection, or Why Bad Parents Are Good Parents”:
For the idle mother it is not a choice between “going back to work” or “staying at home.” She explores that vast and rich territory between those two barren poles. She creates her own job, one that she can fit around her children or even stop doing for a few years. And having made a conscious decision to both work and look after the children, she enjoys both. It is our habit of seeing life as a series of burdens imposed on us by outside forces that creates misery. Once we recognize that we are free and responsible creatures, the burden is lifted. We must smash artificial dualisms.
From “No More Family Days Out”:
The truly idle delight instead in staying at home. At home you are free. You can create your own fun, at no cost whatsoever. You can let the children run around while you read a book. There is a world of adventure and learning under your own roof and on your own doorstep. [...] You don’t need to leave the house. We think we are enjoying ourselves at the theme park, but really it’s a disabling sort of fun because it’s passive. It actually follows the familiar pattern of twenty-first-century life: long periods of boredom interspersed with the occasional thrill.
You can also use time with the children to learn things yourself. Now is the time to teach yourself to draw. Draw with them. Learn to draw animals by copying from books. I taught myself how to draw a simple crab and simple lobster while on holiday in Cornwall. Once you have reduced animal drawing to a few basics, you can then teach the kids and they’ll be mighty pleased with their own results. We give too much responsibility for learning and being creative to the schools. We must learn and teach at home. This need not be a trial, but can be a great joy for parent and child. But you must always make sure that you are genuinely enjoying yourself. Doing things for other people’s sake will lead to feelings of corrosive resentment that will then find expression in some unhealthy fashion, like cancer. Your first responsibility is to your own happiness. If you are unhappy and you do things merely out of a sense of duty rather than genuine love and generosity, then others will sense that and ugliness will result.
From “Say ‘Yes’”:
But are we hungry? Are we cold? Are we homeless? Are we in jail? No. Are we free to change our lives, to quit our jobs, walk out on our homes, leave our wives or husbands? Yes. The point is, if you are not happy with your situation, then you should change it. And do not believe that you are powerless, because you yourself created the situation that you now find yourself in. You also created the mental attitude that you have toward that situation, and similarly, if you so chose, you could re-create that mental attitude. This is not to say that pain is not real. Bereavements, domestic conflict, financial disasters… as Blake, the bard of Albion, wrote:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
From “Learn How to Live from Your Kids”:
Idle parents will never sacrifice themselves to their children. They will carry on with their own lives, and the kids will learn and grow in the slipstream. But they will respect their little creatures and observe their ways with interest. Children say funny things. And you can always learn from them. The important thing in parenting is not what you do but your relationship with your child. It is how you are that counts. Rather than try to follow a list of somebody else’s rules, we must concentrate first and foremost on our mental attitude toward our children. And a certain sense of gratitude toward them for being in our lives may be one way to start.
From “Don’t Fret about Computers, or Toward a Tao of Parenting”:
I am mindful of the importance of the present moment, because, in actual fact, that’s all we have. All else is illusion. I have also realized that, particularly while the children are small, it is far better to be poor in money (or credit) and rich in time than vice versa. We will always be able to eat and to sleep in a bed at night. So I would rather be at home and go without a holiday and drive an old banger or have no car at all than work too hard and spend the cash. And there’s no need to suffer: I am going to keep drinking beer, reading books and playing the uke. A life free from pleasure is no life at all.